July Fourth Weekend Photo Road Trip to the Eastern Sierra Nevada: The Dismal Side of the Sierras, Part 4
Mono Lake, Milky Way, Sunrise
After finishing up at Bodie, I made my way back towards Lee Vining and Mono Lake for the evening astrophotography session. As I ate dinner at “Bodie Mike’s” in Lee Vining, I received several imminent flash flood warnings for Mono Lake. I decided to scrap my original plan: an all night time lapse while sleeping under the stars next to my camera, and go for something a bit less ambitious. Fortunately, the storms cleared in time for sunset. I was rewarded with a great sequence of sunset images and stayed out til about 01:00 capturing the Milky Way with tufa in the foreground. Throughout the night I heard coyotes howling and yipping, owls hooting, and bats echo-locating.
Dark skies abound.
Milky Way captured using wide aperture (f/4.0, f/4.5) , high ISO, and the shutter speed defined, at the maximum, by the “rule of 600”. Before sunset I set up the 6D at 24mm on tripod facing north west for time lapse footage. The cloud formations were dynamic and interesting. You could tell that while the sun was up, the storms were still being fueled, but as the sun dropped, the fluffy, anvil shaped Cumulonimbus clouds collapsed in on itself in a pink display.
Once the color was drained from the western sky, I recomposed the 6D for the Milky Way. I did this during civil twilight because I wanted there to be enough ambient light left to maintain the auto-focus capability for the entire scene (fore and back). This helped me to avoid wasting valuable minutes incrementally tweaking the focus manually in the dark. Facing SSE (direction of Milky Way’s rise) and including some Tufa in the foreground, I focused camera on my scene, switched lens to manual focus, and began the time lapse of Milky Way. At first I was in Aperture Priority, but when the shutter speeds began to increase to over 15s in the darker conditions, I switched from Aperture Priority to Bulb Mode. I set my intervalometer to hold the shutter open for 20s each exposure, and upped the ISO mode. Now in steady-state, I left the camera do its thing, checking it from time using the 6D’s Wifi image viewer features on my phone.
My second camera , the 1D, had a telephoto lens on it. I used this for isolation shots of specific tufa outcroppings and compression of the lake with mountains and scenery across the lake.